By Christine Butterfield
NORMAN- Coming off a mind-boggling 38-35 loss last Saturday to Kansas State, the Oklahoma Sooners are looking to bounce back big this weekend.
Iowa State was on the receiving end of a head-scratching loss themselves, dropping their season opener as the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. Similarly to Oklahoma’s loss last weekend, turnovers and special teams proved costly as the Ragin’ Cajuns emerged from Ames victorious.
As Oklahoma is trying to do this weekend, Matt Campbell’s Cyclones have already proved they can bounce back.
Iowa State looked impressive against TCU this past weekend, albeit the Horned Frogs were playing their first game of the season.
While the all time series is incredibly lopsided in favor of the Sooners, the last four meetings have been highly competitive. Since Campbell’s arrival in Ames, the Sooners have only outscored the Cyclones 144-130.
The wide receiving core for Iowa State could test an Oklahoma secondary coming off a concerning second half against Kansas State.
The Cyclone receivers rank first in the league in yards after the catch. The Sooners will have to bring Iowa State playmakers to the ground in space. As the game wore on last weekend, the Oklahoma defense reverted to years past, missing tackles leading to the big chunk plays which ultimately tilted the scale in the Wildcats favor.
The Iowa State receiving core has also not dropped a pass yet this season. The onus will be on the Sooner secondary to force interceptions, as they will likely not be gifted them by the Cyclones.
While the defense works on playing technically sound football for all four quarters, the Oklahoma offense will have to show patience against a talented Iowa State defense.
Redshirt freshman quarterback drew mixed reviews in his Big 12 conference debut last weekend.
At times, Rattler looked to earn every bit of the praise laid at his feet leading into the season. Completing 30-of-41 passes for 387 yards and four touchdowns, Rattler took command of the explosive Lincoln Riley offense and moved the football up and down the field.
However, Rattler also threw three interceptions and appeared to lose faith in his offensive line down the stretch, abandoning clean pockets as the offense began to stall.
The Cyclone defense is notorious for dropping into coverage and forcing quarterbacks to make the correct decision with the football over and over if they want to light up the scoreboard. This could tempt Spencer Rattler into committing similar mistakes we saw against Kansas State.
Experienced pass rusher JaQuon Bailey shredded TCU for three and a half sacks last weekend, and will be looking to exploit an Oklahoma offensive line who struggled at times against the Wildcats.
Riley said the offensive line played well for the most part, but crucial mistakes in big moments hurt the offense.
“We had a couple of just unnecessary holding penalties that all seemed to be on pretty big plays,” Riley said.
The offensive line needs to clean up the simple mistakes to give Rattler the chances he needs in order for the offense to be successful.
To help their young quarterback, the Sooners could turn to the ground game early as the Cyclones have struggled against the run so far this year.
Seth McGowan and T.J. Pledger, Oklahoma’s key running backs, flashed at times against the Wildcats.
McGowan finished with 73 yards and averaged 5.6 yards per carry while Pledger had 43 rushing yards and 30 receiving yards against Kansas State. Both should look to repeat with stellar performances this weekend.
The Sooners will enter Jack Trice Stadium with a point to prove Saturday evening.
Kickoff is slated for 6:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on ABC.
“This is going to be a big challenge for sure,” linebacker DaShaun White said.
“I think our mindset going this week and just our preparation going into the last two or three days has been really really good.”
White said the team will have to show they can withstand a punch and keep fighting to get back on track.
After dropping their conference opener, Oklahoma can’t wait to retake the field and correct their mistakes.
“Saturday at 6:30 p.m. cannot get here soon enough,” Riley said.